1 . Biography
Amitabh Bachchans trademark deep baritone voice, tall, brooding persona and intense eyes, made him the ideal Angry Young Man, setting him apart from the cluster of Bollywoods lover boys. However, his unconventional looks did work against him at the beginning of his Bollywood career, but he stayed around long enough to be become the icon of the Indian film industry.Amitabh Bachchan was born in Allahabad in 1942, to Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Teji Bachchan. Bachchan was initially named Inquilaab. However, at the suggestion of fellow poet, Harivansh Rai changed the name to Amitabh which means, the light that would never go off. Though his surname was Shrivastava, he replaced it with Bachchan, which was his fathers pen name. Amitabh Bachchan studied in Allahabad at Jnana Pramodhini and Boys High School. He completed his education at Sherwood College in Nainital and Kirori Mal College in Delhi. His first job was in Shaw Wallace. Amitabh later worked as a freight broker for a shipping firm called Bird and Co., in Kolkata, a job he quit to pursue a career in acting.
In 1969, Amitabh made his debut with Saat Hindustani, which won him the National Film Award for Best Newcomer. After this came movies like Reshma Aur Shera, Parwana, and Anand in 1971. He made a huge impact with his performance in Hrishikesh Mukherjees Anand alongside Rajesh Khanna, winning him the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. His breakthrough as a lead was in the film Zanjeer (1973) which established his persona of the angry young man of Bollywood. Amitabh reworked the image of the Hindi film hero with major hits like Deewar, Sholay, Trishul and Don. He popularised the violent melodrama genre but had an equal flair for tragedies (Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Shakti) and comedies (Chupke Chupke, Amar Akbar Anthony) as well. His status as a demi god was evident when the entire nation prayed for his recovery when he met with a fatal injury during the making of Coolie in July, 1982.
In 1984, Amitabh entered politics in support of long time friend Rajiv Gandhi. He contested Allahabads Lok Sabha seat and won by a huge margin. Accusations of him being involved in the Bofors Scandal made him quit politics, although, later on, he was proved innocent. Amitabh returned to films with blockbusters like Shahenshah, Agneepath, Hum and Khuda Gawah. A series of flops in mid 90s and the collapse of his company, Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd. landed him in immense debts. He returned back to movies but with no success.In the year 2000, he stepped up to host the television show Kaun Banega Crorepati and later was seen in Mohabbatein along with Shah Rukh Khan. Both these ventures proved extremely successful. Since then Amitabh has been on a roll. At sixty plus, with all the endorsements and accolades, he is a greater icon than he was at the height of his popularity three decades ago.
In recent past we have seen Amitabh doing vastly different roles in fims like Sarkar Raj, The Last Lear, Paa, Teen Patti and Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap.He was last seen in Prakash Jhas Aarakshan in 2011, the film failed to do well at the box office but Amitabhs role was widely appreciated.
2 . Early career 1969 1972
Amitabh Bachchan made his film debut in 1969 as one of the seven protagonists in Saat Hindustani. The movie was not a financial success, but Bachchan won his first National Film Award. This was followed by hit film Bombay to Goa.Comedian Actor Mehmood is responsible for his first commercial break in this film.The critically acclaimed and commercially successful Anand (1970) followed, where he starred alongside the reigning superstar of the industry at the time, Rajesh Khanna. Bachchan held his own despite playing a supporting role, and won a Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for his intense performance.Anand was followed by many unsuccessful films such as Reshma Aur Shera (1971) and Parwaana (1971). Then came 1973, and the start of the road towards the iconic status he would eventually come to hold for millions worldwide.
3 . Stardom 1973 1983
Bachchans first major box office success came when director Prakash Mehra cast him in the leading role for his film, Zanjeer. The movie was a sharp contrast to the romantic themed ones that had generally preceded it, and established Amitabh in a new persona the angry young man action hero of Bollywood. The next decade catapulted him to the pinnacle of Bollywood superstardom. He churned out at least one major hit every year, including Deewaar (1975), Sholay (1975) , Trishul (1978), Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1978), Don (1978), Kasme Vaade (1978), Kaala Patthar (1979) and Lawaaris (1981).
Although the above mentioned films cemented his status as Bollywoods pre eminent action hero, Amitabh displayed a flair for more than just action roles. His remarkable comic timing was on display in such hits as Chupke Chupke (1975), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) and Namak Halaal (1982). He was also successful as a romantic lead, with particularly notable performances in Kabhie Kabhie (1976) and Silsila (1981). In 1982 he was critically injured while filming Coolie. He spent many months recovering and resumed filming later that year. The film was released in 1983 and due to the huge publicity of Bachchans accident, the film was a box office success
4 . Political career 1984 1987
In 1984, Amitabh briefly entered politics in support of long time family friend, Rajiv Gandhi. He contested Allahabads Parliament seat against H. N. Bahuguna, a well known politician, and won his MP candidacy by the highest victory margin ever for a parliamentary candidate in Indian history (68.2% of the vote).His political career, however, was short lived He resigned after three years, leaving his term incomplete. The resignation followed Bachchans implication in the Bofors scandal by a newspaper, which he vowed to take to court. Bachchan was eventually found not to be guilty of involvement in the ordeal. But since then he detached himself from the Gandhi family and after the demise of Late Rajiv Gandhi he was in deep financial crises because of losses in ABCL. His old friend Amar Singh helped him during the crisis. So he started supporting Mulayam in his political campaigns in an unofficial capacity. Jaya Bachchan joined Samajwadi Party and became a Rajya Sabha Member. In February of 2007, the Samajwadi Party in conjunction with the TDP, DMK, and other fronts wants to nominate Amitabh Bachchan for the candidacy of President of India. But Bachchan has said that he has no plans to contest the presidential election.
5 . Career slump 1988 1999
In 1988, Bachchan returned to films with Shahenshah, which was a box office success due to the hype of Bachchans comeback. After the success of his comeback film however, his star power began to wane as all of his subsequent films failed at the box office. The 1991 hit film Hum looked like it might reverse this trend, but the momentum was short lived as his string of box office failures continued. Notably, despite the lack of hits, it was during this period that Bachchan won his second National Film Award, for his memorable performance as a Mafia don in the 1990 film Agneepath. These years would be the last he would be seen on screen for some time. After the release of Khuda Gawah in 1992, Bachchan went into semi retirement for five years. One of his delayed films Insaniyat was finally released in 1994 but was also a box office failure.Bachchan setup Amitabh Bachchan Corporation, Ltd. (A.B.C.L.) in 1996 during his temporary retirement period with the vision of becoming a 10 billion (approx 250 million $US) Indias premier entertainment company by the year 2000. ABCLs strategy was to introduce products and services covering the entire gamut of the Indias entertainment industry. Its operations were mainstream commercial film production and distribution, audio cassettes and video discs, production and marketing of television software, celebrity and event management. Soon after the company was launched in 1996, the first film produced by the company was Tere Mere Sapne which was a modest success at the box office. And it helped launch the career of actor Arshad Warsi who went onto become a successful comic actor. ABCL produced a few other films none of which did well.In 1997, Bachchan attempted to make his acting comeback with the film Mrityudaata, produced by ABCL. Though Mrityudaata attempted to reprise Bachchans earlier success as an action hero (portrayed as an angry man) , unfortunately, like most of ABCL ventures, the film was a failure both financially and critically. ABCL was the main sponsor of the The 1996 Miss World beauty pageant, Bangalore and lost millions due to the poor management of the event. The fiasco and the consequent legal battles surrounding ABCL and various entities after the event, eventually led to its financial and operational collapse in 1997. The company went into administration and was later on declared as a failed company by Indian Industries board. The Bombay high court, in April of 1999 restrained Bachchan from selling off his Bombay bungalow Prateeksha and two flats till the pending loan recovery cases of Canara Bank were disposed of. Bachchan had, however, pleaded that he had mortgaged his bungalow to Sahara India Finance for raising funds for his company.
Bachchan later attempted to revive his acting career and had average success with Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998) and received positive reviews for Sooryavansham (1999) but most, however, then believed that Bachchans glory days were over as all his other films such as Lal Baadshah (1999) and Hindustan Ki Kasam (1999) were box office failures.
6 . Amitabh Bachchans return as a superstar on KBC
The 15 year press ban Very few are aware of the ban on Bachchan a ban that shook the film industry by its roots. Stardust and all the film magazines got together to form an association and banned Bachchan for 15 years during his peak. They decided not to print anything about Bachchan, in any of their publications. In response, Amitabh said that he had banned the press from entering his sets almost till the end of 1989. However, he had nothing personal against any particular magazine.
7 . Television career
In the year 2000, Bachchan stepped up to host Indias adaptation of the British television game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire entitled, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC). As it did in most other countries where it was adopted, the program found immediate and profound success, in no small part due to Bachchans charisma. It is believed that Bachchan charged a whopping Rs 25 lakhs (2.5 million Indian Rupees, approximately US$60,000 ) per weekly episode which strengthed Bachchan and his family both financially and morally after the setbacks that he had to cope after ABCLs collapse. The Canara Bank also withdrew its law suit against Bachchan in November 2000. Bachchan hosted KBC till November 2005, and its success set the stage for his return to film popularity.
Comeback 2000 present In 2000, Bachchan appeared in Yash Chopras box office super hit, Mohabbatein, in which he played a stern, older figure that rivalled the character of Indias new hearthrob, Shah Rukh Khan. Audiences appreciated Bachchans work, as he played a character whose age approximately mirrored his own. Other hits followed, with Bachchan appearing as an older patriarch in Ek Rishtaa A Bond of Love (2001), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) and Baghban (2003). As an actor, he continued to exploit a range of characters suiting with his profile, receiving critical acclaim for his performances in Aks (2001), Aankhen (2002), Khakee (2004), Dev (2004) and most notably Black (2005). Taking advantage of this resurgence, Amitabh started endorsing a variety of products and services, appearing in many television and billboard advertisements.
Recently he starred with his son Abhishek in the hit films Bunty Aur Babli (2005), the Godfather tribute Sarkar (2005), and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (2006).All of them have been very successful at the box office and acclaimed by critics. His most recent releases Baabul (2006), Eklavya and Nishabd (2007) have failed to do well at the box office but his performances in each of them have been appreciated by critics.Zamaanat in which he plays the protagonist, has seen its release date postponed for over 10 years now for want of distributors willing to buy the movies rights. He also made a guest appearance as himself in the Kannada movie Amruthadaare directed by Nagathihalli Chandrashekhar. Most recently on May 25, 2007 two of his films Cheeni Kum and the multi starrer Shootout at Lokhandwala were released. Though he did a cameo in the film. Shootout at Lokhandwala has taken an excellent start at the box office in India and overseas and Cheeni Kum has picked up after a slow start. But ended up being an average fare.
His forthcoming releases include a supporting role in his first international English language film titled Shantaram which is directed by Mira Nair and stars Hollywood actor Johnny Depp in the lead. He is also appearing in an English language film titled The Last Lear. On the sets of The Last Lear Bachchan turned dialogue writer and penned down some on the spot Hindi dialogues.
Barabanki Land ScamIn the runup to the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections, 2007, Amitabh Bachchan made a film extolling the virtues of the Mulayam Singh government. Unfortunately, his Samajwadi Party was routed, and Mayawati came to power. One of her first actions was to launch investigations against Amitabh Bachchan.On June 2, 2007, a court ruled that he had been illegally granted agricultural land designated for landless Untouchable farmers. He may also be investigated on related charges of forgery. If he does not qualify as the owner of agricultural land elsewhere, he may also lose a 20 acre farmhouse property he had purchased at Maval near Pune.In a related development, the Bombay High Court on June 21, 2007 issued notice to him in a case of alleged tax evasion and cover up deals.
8 . Health
While filming Coolie in 1982, Bachchan was seriously injured during the filming of a fight scene with co star Puneet Issar. He was in the hospital with a ruptured intestine for months, and at times was close to death. A remarkable outpouring of support and concern by his fans and the nation in general followed. After recovering, Bachchan resumed shooting for Coolie, and it finally released as a huge success owing to its pre release publicity.The director, Manmohan Desai altered the ending for Coolie after Bachchans accident. Bachchans character was originally intended to have been killed off but after the change of script, the character lived in the end. It would have been inappropriate, said Desai, for the man who had just fended off death in real life to be killed on screen as well. Also, remarkably, in the released film the footage of the fight scene is frozen at the critical moment, and a caption appears onscreen marking this as the instant of the actors injury and the ensuing publicity of the accident.
In November of 2005, Amitabh Bachchan was admitted to Lilavati Hospital once more, to undergo surgery for diverticulitis. This occurred after Bachchan complained of pains in his abdomen some days prior. During the period and that following his recovery, most of his projects were put on hold, including the television show he was in the process of hosting, Kaun Banega Crorepati. Amitabh returned to work in March of 2006.
9 . Bollywoods Angry Young Man
Amitabhs rise to fame came during a period of growing disillusionment with and distrust of authority, due, in part, to political corruption that was becoming more and more commonplace as well as a breakdown of the legal system. With his intensely brooding appearance, his role in Zanjeer as a police officer who takes the law into his own hands to avenge the murder of his parents positioned him as Bollywoods angry young man, and he became the face of this new public rage. He continued to make a name for himself, mostly by playing working class heroes hell bent on fighting against an unjust society, or a state that exploits its citizens. His roles in the hits Deewar and Sholay served to solidify this image, playing characters who have been described as inward looking yet outwardly searching, torn between a dark past and the hopes for a better future.
10 . Power in Restraint
Beyond the social, political and economic factors that led to the success of such films, one must also not forget Bachchans presence and performance, both of which are key factors to his becoming a symbol of the changing times. Theres a restraint to his delivery and sense of timing, and his anger relies more on physical gestures than on exaggerated histrionics. Much has been written on his use body language, and hes considered one of the first Bollywood actors to incorporate Western acting styles into his performances, which obviously set him apart from his peers. The struggles of his characters are internalized as much as they are externalized, and he mastered the subtlety required to express loss, anger, and the desire for revenge.